Want to Protest GOP Convention In Tampa? Be Ready to Pay $50, Leave Knives at Home
Attention Miami-area anarchists, liberals, and Occupiers: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn is worried about "knuckleheads" causing trouble during the Republican National Convention this August. So to keep all the Romney-disturbers in line, last night he proposed a "Clean Zone" across most of downtown Tampa where police will have broad power to bust up protests.
Activists are already calling foul. "I think of the Clean Zone as something a little bit dirty," Corey Uhl, a student protester, tells ABC. "They're going to keep all of us out of downtown to keep us from protesting."
Inside the "Clean Zone," police would be able to arrest protesters for possessing anything that could be used as a weapon or a shield. According to the Tampa Bay Times, the list of banned items would include "knives, axes, air pistols, brass knuckles, mace, chains, crowbars and bags of bodily fluids."
What's more, any group of fifty or more protestors would need an official city permit to demonstrate inside the zone - which would cover a broad swath of downtown Tampa near the convention and all city parks.
The permits would cost $50 and would limit protests to just one hour. (Though if the would-be protester can prove he's on food stamps, the fee can be dropped. No word on whether the group would instead have to submit to Rick Scott's welfare drug tests.)
Buckhorn says his proposed rules are in light of the 2008 RNC in Minneapolis, where police went all Miami FTA on protesters with tear gas, Tasers and mass arrests.
"I'm not going to be judgmental of others performance, but I think they were not quite as well prepared and as well trained and as well equipped as we will be," Buckhorn tells ABC.
Tampa's city commission still has to approve the new rules. In the meantime, it's probably time to start formulating some protests that sadly don't involve bags of human bodily fluid.